About the book
Barely Breathing is the second book in The Breathing Series by Rebecca Donovan. The book was published by Penguin on 28th February and it is 592 pages long.
Set 6 months after the first book, Reason to Breathe, Emma Thomas is slowly getting over the terrible ordeal she went through. The physical abuse she suffered at the hands of her Aunt Carol is now public knowledge and Emma can no longer hide from those around her. However, her life is far from normal as she suffers constantly from nightmares, never being able to forget what happened to her. With graduation not far away, Emma’s estranged mother wants to form a relationship again which sees Emma move in with her. Unfortunately though, Emma’s mother has her own problems and together, they must deal with the events of the past if they are ever going to get on again.
What I thought
As soon as I finished the first book in this series, Reason to Breathe, I ordered this one. Reason to Breathe ends on a massive cliff-hanger and I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened next to Emma. As this book is set 6 months later, Emma is slowly getting over what her Aunt did to her. Her life is in a bit of a mess and she now lives with best friend Sara and her family. What I liked about this book was the fact that it deals with the aftermath of previous events. Emma is forced to deal with her feelings and to realise that her life isn’t nearly as bad as what it used to be.
However, after having such a hard life up until this point, I did think that moving back in with her alcoholic mother was a terrible idea. Without this kind of plot though, there wouldn’t have been much story I guess. Emma’s mother, Rachel had been in touch in the last book and had appeared to have changed. Even though everyone warns her against it, Emma wants to give Rachel a second chance and at least try to get to know her better. Even after people have treated her terribly, Emma tries to see the best in people and does believe in second chances. Although I did think the plot was a bit far-fetched after the last book, I did like seeing the relationship between Emma and Rachel progress. It was interesting to see the two interact with each other after being apart for so long.
Rachel was a character I hated though, nearly as much as Emma’s Aunt Carol. Rachel is the most needy and desperate woman I have ever read about. She acts like a teenager, cries when she doesn’t get her own way and then turns to the drink as well. While I thought that getting to know Rachel would mean understanding Emma better, this was not the case. Emma and Rachel are absolutely nothing alike and Emma quickly begins to realise this. Although I disliked Rachel, she brought in another big part of the book – Jonathan, who is the younger man she’s dating. Jonathan is closer to Emma’s age than Rachel’s and they become friends. Emma and Jonathan also share being unable to sleep at night due to their pasts so it was nice for Emma to finally have someone she felt like she could talk to.
With all of this going on, Emma is still dating Evan and still best friends with Sara. I absolutely loved both of these characters and was glad to see them still central to the plot. As much as I enjoyed these characters though, I didn’t like the way that Emma treat them at times. Yes, she had a lot going on with other aspects of her life but she treat Evan like crap at times and he had done nothing but be there for her and support her through everything. I also though he put up with way too much too and I would have liked to have seen him with more of a backbone.
Overall, I didn’t like this book nearly as much as the first instalment of the series. I felt as though the plot was too much and certain characters annoyed me throughout. Barely Breathing was also not as emotional as I didn’t connect with the plot as well as I maybe could have done. I do still want to read the next in the series though.